If a friend were to ask for an affordable smartphone recommendation today, my initial response would be "Nexus." In fact, that would be the gut response of most tech geeks, as Google's own devices receive software updates before anyone else, are reasonably priced, and are typically at or near the top of the market specs-wise. An iPhone 5S, off contract, will cost you $650. Most flagship Android devices, off-contract, are in that same range, but the Nexus 5? It starts at $350.
Nexus phones are arguably the best bang for your buck, at least for now. A Chinese startup company, OnePlus, aims to change all of that with its "One," a phone that despite its bland and generic name, kills every other phone on paper. The company's motto is "Never Settle," but do they live up to it?
Prepare yourself for some gibberish, but here are a few key specs, courtesy of Engadget:
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (Quad-core 2.5Ghz CPU with Adreno 330 GPU)
- 3 GB RAM
- 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD screen, covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- 13-megapixel Sony-sourced camera, with dual LED flash (5-megapixel front-facing camera)
- JBL-tuned stereo speakers, tri-microphone
- NFC, LTE, CDMA
- 16 GB ($299) or 64 GB storage ($349)
Basically, it's a top of the line flagship phone for cheaper-than-Nexus prices. And you can order woodgrain battery covers!
Geek specs are great, but one of the major reasons why the Nexus is so appealing is that it gets constant updates and includes no bloatware. The OnePlus One carries similar appeal, as it includes CyanogenMod by default.
We've talked about the third-party Android OS in the past, but here's a brief recap: it's a stripped-down Android, with constant updates, that includes a few killer privacy features, like encrypted text messaging and an app privacy guard (for handling permissions). Obviously, great for attorneys.
Price and Availability
According to Engadget, the phone will be available in mid to late May, with the 16 GB version available for $299, and the 64 GB version at $349.
With the price, and the spec list, this is absolutely nitpicking, but much like the Nexus and the iPhone, there is no expandable storage or removable battery. Both are common complaints, though the storage issue is definitely alleviated by the cheap 64 GB option. (Apple's iPhone 5S 64 GB runs $850.)
Also, what's with the name? There's already an HTC "One" flagship smartphone out there (doth I smell litigation on the horizon?), as well as the Xbox One (gaming console). Are companies simply unable to come up with a different name (or number)?
And, of course, as with any startup, there's no reputation to rely upon, nor any guarantees that the company will survive long enough to honor any warranties. If that bothers you, sticking to an established company might be a safer route. At the price, however, we're sure OnePlus isn't going to suffer from a shortage of demand.
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